Jersey Reds 24 Yorkshire Carnegie 1925/02/2017
A heroic and committed display by the Reds brought them the points in their first league outing on home turf since New Year's Day.
In stretching their recent winning run in all competitions to five games - a record sequence since reaching the Championship in 2012 - the Reds also ended a long run of defeats against Yorkshire Carnegie, who had won nine consecutive league and cup games against Jersey since losing 20-17 at St Peter in December 2012.
The result was forged on a display of toughness and determination from the home side, who wasted no time in asserting themselves after the game began.
In a tense and compelling contest, Jersey Reds held on determinedly to claim the spoils. Possession was monopolised and in their attempts to defend, Carnegie conceded a stream of penalties. This brought a warning from referee Christophe Ridley, and then a yellow card for Michael Cusack after the sixth penalty in 12 minutes.
Desperate for points to show for their pressure, the Jersey players pounded at the line and eventually Nick Haining leapt athletically towards the try-line, stretching his full length to get the ball down successfully.
The 14-man visitors eventually managed to secure the ball, and with it a foothold in the game, and after a powerful maul, Ben West claimed the try.
Carnegie led briefly thanks to Alex Davies's conversion, but Callum Sheedy's penalty restored the Reds' advantage. The fly-half, making his fifth appearance for the Reds after signing a dual-registration deal from Bristol, looked dangerous with ball in hand but had a mixed night from the kicking tee, landing three of his four penalty attempts but not succeeding with three conversions.
It was 24 minutes before the first scrum, and there were only a handful of scrums throughout the game, with a low volume of handling errors on a crisp, still night.
A powerful run by Steve McColl might have led to a Carnegie try, but the pass to Pete Lucock could not be taken. The Reds were driven back at the resulting scrum, but Haining was able to pick up at the base and launch a 70-metre counter attack, with the ball taken on by Kuki Ma'afu and Nick Scott. The latter was hauled down short, but soon afterwards Jordan Davies forced his way over. The Reds led 13-7 at the break.
The third quarter featured two Sheedy penalties for Jersey and a brace of mauled tries for Carnegie, finished by Michael Cusack and Phil Nilsen, plus a Davies conversion to leave the scores tied at 19-each.
A dangerous run by Haining was ended by a tackle from Lewis Boyce that saw Jersey's number 8 upended and crashing to the turf; it was ruled dangerous by the officials and brought a yellow card. The Reds capitalised with a series of forward drives before working the ball wide for Jack Cuthbert to score as the visiting defence eventually ran out of numbers.
Carnegie had chances to win the match in the closing stages, but were repelled by determined Jersey resistance. Some errant kicking meant frequent changes in possession. Carnegie were looking to get the maul going to tie the scores and possibly win the game, but the final lineout on the 22-metre line was picked off at the back of the line by skipper Pierce Phillips, and the ball was safely recycled and booted off the park by Kieran Hardy.
Phillips was named man-of-the-match, pushed all the way for the accolade by several other members of Jersey's pack, notably the highly-conspicuous Haining and the ever-combative Gary Graham.
"I'm proud of the team tonight, they played like warriors against a big and physical team," said Head Coach Harvey Biljon. "We've got some momentum, and the players have been performing well under pressure, which helped us see out the game with some good discipline.
"There were a couple of errors, but generally I thought we managed the game well. Back-to-back games against Cornish Pirates is quite a prospect, but for the moment I think we should all enjoy our weekends and be ready to pick up the hard work on Monday."
"We were much improved from our previous game [the 27-44 defeat by the Pirates], but the team who took their chances won," said Carnegie Head Coach Bryan Redpath. "It was a game of small margins - the try at the end of the first half was a big turning point, and we'd dispute the second yellow card, but credit to Jersey for the win."
Ahead of Saturday's games, the Reds moved to within a point of fourth-placed Ealing Trailfinders.
Pictures by Rich Chapman - a wider selection will be published on our Facebook page when received
Jersey Reds: Cuthbert; Adair, Davies, Ma'afu (Robling 50), Scott; Sheedy, Hardy; McCarthy (Woolmore 70), Buckle ((Macfarlane 70), Kerrod (Armstrong 71), Phillips (capt), McKern (Kolo'ofa'i 29), Argyle (Voss 62), Graham. Replacement (not used): Dudley
Yorkshire Carnegie: McColl (Beech 65); Holmes, Forsyth, Lucock, Arscott; Ford (Seals 52), Davies; Boyce (YC 62, McColl 72), Nilsen, Cusack (YC 12, Faletau 52), Schofield (Myserscough 50), West (Myerscough 21-27), Stedman, Mayhew R, Burrows (capt). Replacements (not used): Mayhew M, Bainbridge, Green
REFEREE: Christophe Ridley. Assistants: Darryl Chapman, Paul Burton
Half Time: 7-13
Man-of-the-match, sponsored by Lotherington's Interiors: Pierce Phillips (Jersey Reds)
Tries: Haining 14, Davies 38, Cuthbert 66
Penalties: Sheedy 29, 47, 57
Tries: Boyce 19, Cusack 52, Nilsen 59
Conversions: Davies 19, 59